Visiting La Chaux-de-Fonds
The tourist office provides a handy guide in pamphlet form to the Le Corbusier sites in the town.
The guide, in English, includes biographical notes and brief descriptions of the houses, furniture and monuments.
However, the poor quality of the map on the back of the pamphlet will make it well worth your while to ask the tourist office for an additional map in order to find your way to the sites.
Allow at least a day if you want to see the houses and visit the library and museums.
It is advisable to phone ahead for access to the Le Corbusier documents at the library.
Le Corbusier's early houses are clustered close together on chemin de Pouillerel on a hill overlooking La Chaux-de-Fonds.
It's interesting to note that a block of flats has in the intervening years gone up in the middle of these houses. The concrete block, dating from the 1960s, was obviously influenced by Le Corbusier, as was all such housing of the 20th century.
The fine arts museum, library and Villa Schwob are much more centrally located and close to La Chaux-de-Fonds' main avenue, Léopold-Robert.
Another Le Corbusier house, the Villa Favre-Jacot, is located eight kilometres away in the village of Le Locle.
As in the architect's time, La Chaux-de-Fonds is still a watchmaking centre and houses the International Watchmaking Museum.
La Chaux-de-Fonds was awarded the prestigious Wakker Prize for heritage protection in 1994 but many find it a very unusual Swiss town, with its high-rise buildings and streets laid out in a grid pattern.
It was rebuilt in this fashion after the town was destroyed by fire near the end of the 18th century.
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